The 2020 NFL season is quickly approaching the opening day of the season where the Kansas City Chiefs will host the Houston Texans.
The Chiefs will once again expect to be in contention, while the Texans hope to improve on a playoff berth from last year. However, teams at the bottom rung of the ladder will be expecting another struggle.
Those who finished at the bottom of their divisions last season will be hoping for significant improvement. After strong offseasons teams like the Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Chargers and Miami Dolphins look destined to compete in their divisions..
However, four teams will face yet another rebuild before they can return to contention. Here we take a look at who these teams are.
Jacksonville made a number of attractive moves this offseason, namely drafting CJ Henderson, K’Lavon Chiasson and Laviska Shenault. Despite an excellent draft, fans shouldn’t expect success this season.
The Jaguars essentially gutted their roster. Nick Foles, Calais Campbell and AJ Bouye were traded. While franchise tagged Yannick Ngakoue announced his desire to be traded in a spat with Tony Khan via Twitter.
Since your feeling might today let’s both let the world in on the truth. We been had a discussion that the chargers game was my last game. Yet you try to back door the situation without answering any of my camps calls. Smh you spoiled bra.. holding up people for no reason 🤡
— Yannick Ngakoue (@YannickNgakoue) April 20, 2020
Jacksonville have started a rebuild, which almost certainly takes them out of contention in the AFC South. Whether you have faith in Gardner Minshew’s ability to transform into the next Tom Brady or the potential of the Jags young stars this season feels too early.
Matt Rhule was able to transform Baylor and Temple into winning college programs. However, the only thing is that he didn’t transform them into winners overnight.
The Panthers are in a division containing the Falcons, Saints and Buccaneers, all of whom have established players and can contend for a postseason berth. As a result, the Panthers will likely not be competitive in the NFC South division this season.
Nonetheless, Carolina still have a strong core to build around. Christian McCaffrey is a bonafide superstar and Brian Burns, Shaq Thompson and DJ Moore all have breakout potential. In addition, if Teddy Bridgwater can excel like he did in New Orleans, the Panthers have their franchise quarterback.
Defense is expected to be a concern in Rhule’s first year. Luke Kuechly has retired, Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe left to join Dallas in free agency, Mario Addison left to reunite with former defensive coordinator Sean McDermott in Buffalo. While the first year head coach has the unenviable task of replacing the team’s best cornerback in James Bradberry.
To compensate for those losses general manager Marty Hurney spent all seven draft picks on defense. However, how likely is it for a defense with a number of rookies and second year players to thrive in a pass heavy division from the outset?
Washington football team
Washington will likely finish in the NFC East basement yet again with the Giants expected to improve. Ron Rivera’s team have a number of issues to correct, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.
The Washington football team’s biggest concern so far is who will be starting at quarterback in week one. Dwayne Haskins looks to be the favourite, but Alex Smith has sensationally returned to fitness and Rivera has Kyle Allen waiting in the wings in the event of Haskins struggling.
Rivera and the team failed to address the lack of weapons at Haskins’ disposal. Aside from Terry McLaurin, the team’s receiving corps looks devoid of quality and the backfield is led by an ageing but effective Adrian Peterson. In a division containing two strong defenses in Philadelphia and Dallas, it likely won’t be enough to compete.
However, Washington could surprise in 2020 with what looks like one of the league’s best defenses. Few teams have a defensive front as strong as Chase Young, Da’Ron Payne, Jonathan Allen, Matt Ioannidis, Ryan Kerrigan and Montez Sweat. Washington’s defensive line could keep the football team in contention in the NFC East. Nevertheless, it doesn’t feel entirely likely that the Washington football team will compete against the Eagles and Cowboys.
Cincinnati finally opted to rebuild after moving on from Marvin Lewis after the 2018 season. The Bengals struggled in 2019 as they secured the no.1 pick which was later used on quarterback Joe Burrow. Cincinnati released Andy Dalton as a result.
Although the Bengals should be better in 2020, it is hard to imagine them contending for the division. Burrow is expected to make mistakes in his first professional season and without a veteran backup to come in as relief, it seems likely Burrow will start in week one.
Even after opting to spend big money in free agency, Cincinnati will be banking on their divisional rivals to underperform if they’re to contend. Head Coach Zac Taylor will also need young talent such as Tee Higgins and Auden Tate growing into playmakers by Week 1. There is also little guarantee that AJ Green and John Ross will remain healthy throughout the season.
The Bengals will also require significant improvement from their offensive line. They surrendered 48 sacks and had one of Pro Football Focus’ worst ratings. But with 2019 first round pick Jonah Williams returning from injury, Cincinnati should be better. Even so it’ll take a year or so to fully fix the offensive line.
Nonetheless, the Bengals could surprise, it isn’t out of the question. But in a division containing genuine playoff contenders in Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens it doesn’t feel likely.